Retired Buffalo Catholic priest placed on administrative leave following an allegation of child sexual abuse

According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Rev. Msgr. Leo McCarthy is accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl at St. Matthew's Church and School in 1982. The priest has been placed on leave by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. Although Msgr. McCarthy is retired, he was assisting in parish ministry at Blessed Sacrament Church in the Town of Tonawanda before his leave. The cleric denies the allegations.

Msgr. McCarthy is the fifth priest to be placed on administrative leave by Bishop Michael Fisher since June. We credit the Child Victims Act with paving a pathway to justice for survivors. We know that secular investigations and the use of discovery in the civil litigation process brings forth much more information than what would be volunteered by Catholic officials.

It is no surprise to us that the Diocese of Buffalo issued a late-day Friday press release. This is a known tactic for burying breaking news. In their statement, the Diocese also did not once offer compassion, prayers, or thoughts for the brave victim who came forward, although studies show that false allegations of child sexual abuse are extremely rare. In addition, the Diocese was quick to announce that the removal does not indicate that it believes Msgr McCarthy is guilty. We also note that there was no appeal to other potential victims and witnesses to report to law enforcement. It would seem that the Buffalo Diocese is still taking its cues from the "playbook" used by Catholic bishops to conceal the truth.

The victim apparently reported the assault to a teacher at St. Matthew's School and was not believed, nor was any report to authorities made. The young girl was expelled from the school soon after the priest learned of her outcry. She also told her mother about the assaults when the parent suspected that the child was pregnant. This young girl showed extreme courage by speaking out. We commend her for her bravery then, and for her continued efforts to hold those responsible accountable.

More than 220 clergymen and nuns in the Diocese of Buffalo have been accused of some form of sexual abuse. We hope Bishop Fisher will now do the next right thing by visiting every parish and facility where the monsignor worked and begging anyone with information on abuse by Msgr. McCarthy, or anyone else, to make a report to the police or the District Attorney immediately.

CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, SNAP Communication Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected]), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009,, Brian Toale, NY Snap Leader, (646-549-0372, [email protected])

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